A List of 50 Questions
N.B. Retrieved from an AUBG professor, AUBG Daily discloses the full list of 50 questions that has been forwarded to AUBG President Kulinski in the hours prior to the Town Hall Meeting on Feb. 8. Our media has decided to refrain from any additional editorial or intellectual input or stance to the themes, inquires, tone of language and the rightfulness of allegations in the following questions.
President Kulinski has already committed to the AUBG constituencies with the promise of providing the answers to the following questions.
To: President Kulinski; Leadership Team Mmebers; Mr. Elvin Guri, Executive Committee Member, invited to the February 8 Town Hall meeting; Mr. Ivan Manev, Board of Trustees Chair
Re: Efficiency, Inclusiveness, and Transparency of AUBG Management Processes
This memo and the enclosed questions are presented to the Leadership Team. We would like to ask that they be forwarded, by those having access to communication with the Board of Trustees, to its members included in the to: line.
The majority of AUBG employees believe that there is more to be done on order to uphold the University standards regarding Enduring Values that Guide University Activities – inclusiveness and transparency in all operations, including management process, ethical, democratic, and participatory governance, highest standards of integrity, and freedom of thought and expression.
To support the success of the University through the collective wisdom of its stakeholders, the AUBG employees are initiating a dialogue on substantive matters, and are inviting the President of the University, the members of the Leadership Team, and Board representative(s), as well as students and faculty, to join the conversation for the benefit of our AUBG. We demand that sufficient, detailed, and precise information be provided to all AUBG stakeholders in a timely manner.
For this purpose, and to make most efficient use of the time during the Town Hall meeting on February 8, we are submitting in advance questions representing various concerns of the AUBG community members.
To facilitate openness and communication, we attempted to collect questions from various sources, such as posted on the anonymous forum, sent or raised by AUBG staff, faculty, and students. The questions are presented without much editorial input. Authors of one or a group of questions do not necessarily agree with all other questions.
The enclosed list is deliberately presented as a mechanical compilation. Presented in this way, it is clearly symptomatic of fundamental issues at AUBG at the moment such as lack of transparency, lack of communication, high level of frustration and low morale among AUBG members.
After the Town Hall meeting, we would like written answers to all these questions to be sent to all e-mail users at AUBG in a fashion similar to other important communication at AUBG.
During the Town Hall meeting, we would like to hear substantial answers to as many of them as time allows, starting from the beginning of the list.
LIST OF QUESTIONS
1. President, you said during the last town hall meeting that your presentation would be made available to the AUBG community. Please will you send it out – not just the organizational chart but the whole presentation, including the table with financial data you used to justify the need of restructuring?
2. President, how, in your view, the process of restructuring affects the morale of your “AUBG family”?
3. What is the purpose of restructuring – is it smoother operations? If so, please answer the following questions. Who designed the new organizational chart presented at the last town hall meeting? Is the new organizational chart reflective of the collective intellectual potential of the university, i.e. has there been consultations with representatives of the three major constituencies at AUBG – faculty, students, and staff – and if not, what is the guarantee that the new structure will work better than the current one? Who are the individuals taking responsibility for the implementation of changes and their effect? Shall we expect further changes in the new chart and if yes, who will be designing them? Is there a detailed business plan to prepare the institution for each possible scenario, including the one where AUBG faces difficulties to operate under the new structure?
4. What is the purpose of restructuring – is it bad financial situation? If so, please answer the following questions. What are the financial grounds for the need of immediate restructuring as opposed to a phased restructuring over a few years, with a strong view of humane aspect? Administrative overhead, according to the IR report, has not changed dramatically over the last few years. Is there another financial indicator that makes it urgent to have the restructuring? What grounds are there for the immediate necessity of restructuring given that “FY17 will be the twelfth consecutive year of balanced unrestricted operating results” and that “If the USD/EUR exchange rate stays at the current levels, the annual unrestricted surplus is likely to surpass $1 million””?
5. What is the purpose of the restructuring – is it cost cutting? If so, please provide financials with precise numbers comparing the projections for the expenses, on an annual basis, related to the new organization structure, to the expenses before the restructuring began, including before hiring of the HR director and the enrollment director. Also, what is the ratio between last year’s and this-year’s financials of AUBG?
6. Please describe the procedures that led to selecting KPMG as the payroll services provider. Please provide financials with precise numbers as to the cost of the old payroll processing model vs. the new one. Please provide information what the price of KPMG services is and how it compares to the market price of such or similar services.
7. Please provide specific information on what the ratio is (not the absolute values!) between the total compensations of the current Enrollment Director and that of the former Admissions Director.
8. President, is it your belief that during the last many years no academic innovation has taken place at AUBG?
9. Is AUBG paying for the Alumni Association President and Members travel to alumni events?
10. What is the net financial result of the many alumni events? Does the money raised cover the travel and refreshments costs?
11. How much is the cost of outsourcing the payroll and how does it compare to the compensation of the in-house staff who did the payroll previously? Give us the exact amounts.
12. What necessitated the outsourcing of payroll?
13. Are there benchmarks available as to what the ratio should be between the number of HR staff and the total number of employees? Why is Human Resources office growing in terms of staff when the overall number of staff is about to be cut. What is the rationale behind that?
14. Is carrying out the restructuring as initially proposed a precondition for a President’s bonus payment?
15. Why are high-profile and highly paid employees hired without following the AUBG hiring procedures? When was the position of Enrollment director advertised and how many people applied for it? Who were the members of the selection committee?
16. In case prudent financial control is needed over academics-related expenses(books, software licenses, newspaper and database subscriptions), why lavish expenses are made for your travel schedule and compensation of selected offices and individuals?
17. What happened to the confidentiality declarations that were signed and submitted to HR?
18. Why did you attempt to handle the reorganization alone, with the HR director that you appointed? Did you consult the new structure with your direct reports and mid-level management?
19. What is the financial result of the bookstore after moving it underground and how does that compare to this time last year?
20. Do you consider the decision to move the bookstore a good one – financially and as a PR tool, external and internal? Elaborate, please.
21. Do you consider your habit of ill-speaking about colleagues, in front of internal and external constituencies and donors, a good business practice? Do you think that has brought friends to AUBG?
22. How would you comment on the concerns of the Faculty Assembly expressed in the agenda for their November 16, 2016 meeting: “We commend the president for reducing the number of university committees with the goal of reducing professors’ workload. However, the faculty assembly respectfully recommends faculty representation on the following university committees with the understanding that such faculty will make active contributions to the corresponding committee functions: (1) forecasting and budget committee (a business, accounting or finance professor); (2) admissions committee to ensure maintenance of academic standards and (3) human subjects review to uphold the US regulations covering human subjects research by US-based journals as well as EU expectations of human subjects protections.” Are there faculty and student representatives in the Budget Committee? Is there and Admissions Committee? Who are the members, is there academic representation?
23. Is there a Staff Development Committee? If not, why? If yes, who are the members?
24. Did AUBG pay for transporting your personal car from the USA? If yes, do you consider that appropriate and how does having your personal vehicle enhance your work performance?
25. Why would you email staff in the middle of the night, yet never come into your office at 8:00 am?
26. What’s your personal stance on leading an example? Neither you, nor the Human Resources director come to work daily and on time. Do you think that has a negative bearing on staff?
27. Do you still claim that the proposed by you organizational structure(which you presented as Board-approved at the October town hall meeting) is in fact approved by the AUBG Board of Trustees?
28. How are you going to work with the AUBG staff from now on, given that you have absolutely no support from it?
29. You have contradicted yourself during the last couple of town hall meetings on important for the AUBG community issues – such as claiming there will be no personnel cuts at one of the meetings and announcing major organizational changes(including lay-offs) at the very next one? We would like to kindly ask what actions do you plan to take to restore the thrust and support of AUBG faculty and staff members?
30. In October 2016, AUBG hosted Teach For All Global Conference. According to the AUBG and Teach for all sites and the news in media, the conference gathered over 350 CEOs, staff, social entrepreneurs, and supporters from across the Teach For All Global community spanning 40 countries and members of the local Bulgarian education. What was done to promote the university during the event? Did any faculty member participate in the conference? Do you think that a flying printed page with bad quality was the best way to advertise the university?
31. Why aren’t the Blue and Red rooms being renovated? Aren’t they appropriate for hosting external events as well AUBG ones?
32. Do you think it is appropriate to have JMC students buy Adobe license? Does that put them at disadvantage compared to other majors?
33. What were your considerations when you decided to move the bookstore and transform its former location into Aspire Lab? Why didn’t we use other available spaces which sit empty and we pay rent for them(e.g. Canteen in MB, Red Room)?
34. How much did the AUBG app cost and what was the decision making process that led to setting its priority over that of e.g. fixing the audio system in the Red room or buying projectors to ensure the high quality of teaching?
35. Kulinski, could you inform us what happened after your notorious 10pm e-mail, which was again used to stress people and which you subsequently took back?
36. Kulinski, you encourage the employees to donate money to the university? Do you lead by example – if it is not a secret, what is your contribution since you assumed the position of AUBG President?
37. Who covers your expenses when you are not at work – e.g. for transporting your car from the US to Bulgaria, for fuel, for your living expenses, for your trips to the US? Or you are totally dedicated to the institution and work 24/7 365 days a year?
38. Why was it necessary to hire an external company to make the personnel cuts? Isn’t our HR department (which is constantly growing in numbers despite the need for cutting expenses) familiar with the Bulgarian legislation and the Bulgarian Labor Code?
39. Can we see your CV – it is not accessible to anyone, which seems a little strange to us, given that this is the first thing one could see in other universities?
40. Why is there a shuttle service to Sofia for highly paid executives but recruiters have to travel with all their materials and equipment using public transportation?
41. Are there working positions at which people are paid living expenses as well as solid monthly salaries?
42. Why were certain departments forced to provide information about their work to external consulting companies and got no feedback from their reports to improve the work of those departments? How were these companies chosen?
43. Since we are to reduce staff, why is the HR office expanding? And since it is expanding, why are they using external consultants to teach them how to do their jobs?
44. Why is reorganization done without any consulting to the managers of departments about the specifics of their work?
45. Why do we refuse to hire people at low-paid positions where there is an actual amount of work to be done but we keep hiring highly paid executives?
46. Decision making is concentrated in one office and there is an attempt to eliminate accounting and this all accountability. Why do we chose firms with ill reputation? KPMG was involved in the scandal with CCB. How does their fee compare to the compensation of the employee(s) doing the same job previously?
47. AUBG IT infrastructure is not fully redundant. In order to ensure continuous operation and minimize disruptions key elements at AUBG IT infrastructure are redundant. Currently we operate without redundancy in the following very important areas:
-AUBG DMZ zone – fiber optic/Ethernet switch
-MB Data center – UPS 1 batteries should be replaced. UPS 2 batteries are OK but replacement is upcoming.
-BAC Data center operates with only one AC unit. It is not critical now but during the summer it is possible to shutdown all IT services at Skaptopara site or order to protect available equipment from overheating.
I would like President Kulinski and leadership team to answer – why all our requests for repair and replacement were rejected? Soon or late failure at these zones can occur. Service disruption may last from several hours to week or two.
48. Why contract with Microsoft is not renewed yet? Currently AUBG IT infrastructure and packages of services provided to Students/Faculty and Staff are designed and dependent on Microsoft products. If we have to discontinue Microsoft products use we need a plan, enough time to identify alternatives and re-training of entire AUBG community. Some versions of used products are available for Windows OS only. At this moment contract with Microsoft must be renewed.
49. Do we have a plan how to renew and improve AUBG computers and servers? We adopted regular replacement cycle for computer labs, faculty and staff computers. Is it still valid?
50. AUBG core network infrastructure were renewed in 2013-2014. AUBG Wi-Fi system is based on 2007 technology. Do we plan improvements in this area and implementing of recent standards?
 January 2017 Board Book, p.49, Report of the VP Finance and Administration